IQ Creative – the people behind Nomads, Mazzo, Envy (plus other words made up of the same letters in different orders) et al – have recently turned Witteveen into Julius Bar & Grill. From their website, it’s not entirely clear why – although the current trend for barbecue restaurants (especially those boasting several Big Green Eggs) presumably has something to do with it. Kind of like the leather apron thing. (Why, people? Why?)
So I dutifully headed down to Julius on a busy Saturday night with three friends so that we, too, could be part of the cool gang. We sat at a long wooden table feeling particularly old: the lights so dim we could barely see each other, shouting to be heard above the noise of the other diners in a venue with no soft furnishings. (Btw, beforehand, we tried out the tasting room at Butcher’s Tears, and drank some of the best local beer I’ve had in a while. Random down-a-dark-alley location, ancient record player providing the soundtrack, old geezer with moustache serving beers with cheeky names – you can’t say cooler than that.)
Our leather-clad waiter came to take our order without a notebook. He walked away. He came back. How did we want our lamb cooked, again? Umm – we ordered the rib eye? It didn’t bode well.
A couple of reminders later, our bottle of Douro arrived alongside out shared sausagey starter: ossenworst and grillworst. It was delicious, but it was also (according to the menu) from Louman’s local butcher, so it was hard to tell what chef Julius Jaspers and his crew had to do with it.
Still, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that we were all half-cut by this point, the meat was in fact very good. The ribs were cooked to melt-off-the-bone perfection, and were marinated in a decent blend of spices that were neither too hot nor too sweet. I wasn’t such a fan of the homemade sauces – whether you opted for curry, ketchup or BBQ sauce, all three were far too sweet for my taste. But the beef was an undeniably good cut of rib eye, albeit completely under seasoned. The chips and coleslaw were excellent, while the jacket on the baked potato could have been crisped up rather better in an oven. A mixed bag, but certainly good post-beer fare.
A pity, then, about the service – or should I say, the server, since others looked to be doing a rather better job with their customers. The LCW (the Leather-Clad Waiter was so famous by this point he had earned his own acronym) had told us at the start of the meal that we’d be provided with a feedback form so we could note down our suggested improvements during the meal – it being a newly opened restaurant ‘n all. Amusingly, the LCW entirely forgot ever to bring us the form. Touché.